8th Jun 2023


EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK

  • EU leaders will gather in Brussels for a final summit before the summer break - to discuss how to return to normalcy after Covid-19 (Photo: Council of the European Union)

EU leaders will gather in Brussels next Thursday and Friday (24 and 25 June) for their traditional pre-summer June summit, to focus on the consequences of Covid-19, with migration, Turkey and Russia also heading the agenda.

Leaders will discuss the "lessons learned" from the pandemic, how to return to normal life and restore free movement among member states, and also discuss COVAX, the global effort to give access to vaccines to all countries.

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They will also talk about migration - the commission's asylum package has been stuck on the same issues that have stalled progress on a new EU asylum policy: redistribution of arriving migrants among EU countries.

Italy requested the discussion in March, as the asylum package - in various forms - has been at a stalemate for over six years.

The heads of governments are not expected to dive into details - fearing it would stall the entire summit - but will focus on the external dimension of migration - returns-policy, agreement with countries outside of the bloc; namely, issues where most member states agree.

The EU-27 leaders will also talk about the launch of the Covid-19 recovery fund, from which last week the EU Commission started to approve national plans aimed to unlock the money - although which still wait the green light from EU countries' ministers in July.

On Turkey, leaders are expected to say that there have been little movement in making relationships better, and will also touch on migration vis-a-vis Turkey.

Leaders are expected to discuss Russia as well, based on the recent commission report that tries to give a framework on how the bloc should move forward in its relationship with Moscow.

The EU-27 leaders will also meet with UN secretary general António Guterres.

Belarus, Iraq, Latin America

On Monday (21 June) EU foreign ministers gather in Luxembourg to discuss sanctions on Belarus, and talk about Iraq and Latin America.

Austria has been blocking new EU sanctions on loans to Belarusian banks so that Austrian lenders can keep making money with the oppressive regime there.

During lunch, ministers will have a discussion with Iraq's foreign minister Fuad Hussein.

On Tuesday (22 June), EU affairs ministers get together to prepare for the summit later in the week.

They will talk about the enlargement process, ahead of the intergovernmental conferences with Serbia and Montenegro on the same day.

Rule of law

They will also discuss the state of play of the Article 7 sanctions procedures against the Polish and Hungarian governments.

This will be the first time ministers talks about concerns over the judicial independence and democratic backsliding in the two countries since December 2019 as discussions have been deemed too sensitive for online sessions during the pandemic.

Benelux ministers intend to make a joint statement on the latest anti-LGBTI legislation in Hungary wrapped into an anti-paedophilia law.

"Benelux ministers very concerned about new Hungarian legislation further stigmatising LGBTI people and undermining EU non-discrimination 'acquis' and freedom of expression," ministers from Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands tweeted last week.

Ministers will also hear the latest on the Conference on the Future of Europe public-engagement exercise, which finally kicked off last month.

Recovery tour

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will continue visiting EU member states this week to unlock the Covid-19 recovery fund, as the EU executive approves member states' national plans.

Von der Leyen will be on Monday in Austria and Slovakia, she will travel to Latvia, Germany, Italy on Tuesday, and be in Belgium and France on Wednesday.

Climate and Switzerland

The European Parliament will confirm the agreement on Thursday on the so-called Climate Law, which is a centre-piece of the European Green Deal, Europe's plan to become climate neutral by 2050.

On Thursday, MEPs will debate EU-Switzerland relations and the consequences of Switzerland's decision to withdraw from the negotiations of the Institutional Framework Agreement, which would have streamlined existing relations between the EU and Switzerland.

MEPs are also expected to vote on its resolution on the commission's first annual rule-of-law report on Thursday.

On Wednesday (22 June), EU commission vice-presidents Margrethe Vestager and Margaritis Schinas will brief MEPs in the civil liberties and industry committee on a joint cyber unit to reinforce the bloc's defences on cyberattacks.

Commission pledges autumn launch of new rule-of-law tool

"We simply cannot afford to make mistakes and bring cases that when they are endorsed by the council, are then annulled by the court, this would be a terrible disaster," the commission's budget chief told MEPs.


Why is Serbia not going to join EU sanctions on Belarus?

As a membership candidate, Serbia is expected to join foreign policy declarations and restrictive measures of the EU. However, Serbia is unlikely to join the EU measures against Belarus for both international and domestic reasons.

Asylum and SLAPP positions in focus This WEEK

Home affairs ministers will work on trying to clinch a common position among EU governments on the migration management system regulation and the asylum procedure regulation, two key parts of the bloc's asylum reform.

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